The U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act, or AHCA, on Thursday, advancing a plan that could potentially cost 24 million Americans their health insurance and sparking disapproval among some campus community members and local government officials.
Passage of the AHCA would reshape the American health care system by repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, also known as Obamacare. According to a March 13 report issued by the Congressional Budget Office, the AHCA could leave 24 million people uninsured by 2026.
“I am very sad, mainly that 24 million people will lose their healthcare if the Senate keeps the same bill, which I don’t think they will,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland. “We work very hard to insure 24 million people plus, so we need to keep moving forward to make the Affordable Care Act better rather than repeal it.”
The AHCA aims to restructure the Medicaid program by capping federal spending on people enrolled in the program. This would potentially reduce federal spending in the long run, but also puts a large number of people at risk of losing their health insurance.
Lee said the AHCA would “end Medicaid as we know it,” and that if new requirements are added to Medicaid, lower-income people “will be hit the hardest.”
The Republican bill would also restrict funding to organizations that provide abortions, including Planned Parenthood, and weaken insurance protections for people with “pre-existing conditions.”
Campus community members expressed concerns regarding the House of Representative’s passage of the AHCA.
“It’s a pretty heartless piece of legislation that would take away healthcare from more than 20 million people while making healthcare more expensive and undermining people with pre-existing conditions,” said Cal Berkeley Democrats development director Varsha Sarveshwar.
According to a statement released by University Health Services, students who lose their health insurance due to changes to the ACA may submit a waiver reversal and join the campus’s Student Health Insurance Plan, or SHIP, at anytime during the semester.
Campus junior Adora Svitak, editor in chief-elect of the Berkeley Political Review, said the passage of the AHCA might cause campus students to become more reliant on SHIP, which can be waived only after meeting a list of “stringent” requirements.
“I think that it’s really dispiriting to see the House victory, because being at UC Berkeley, it’s easy to forget that a lot of students come from different backgrounds,” Svitak said. “Even students who appear to have negligible costs on the surface may suffer from large impacts.”
California State Senator Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, urged the U.S. Senate to reject the bill and called on students to contact their respective senators.
“The U.S. senators need to hear from people everywhere that this is unacceptable, that Americans support the ACA, that Americans want pre-existing coverage for pre-existing conditions to stay whole and that Americans do not want any cuts to Medicaid or Planned Parenthood,” Skinner said.
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Varsha Sarveshwar, the development director for Cal Dems, was a programs director with the last name Venkat.